I have been reading this Book of Martyrs by John Foxe. It’s still a work in progress since I’m still in Martin Luther’s side of the story but I’m getting thru it, struggling to read and take note of the most important things and learn a great deal of my faith’s history.
I wouldn’t have written this if not for the fact that I’ve been itching to talk about it. Reading the book was like time travelling. It’s the experience of going back to the period where Christianity first started, that era where Constantine embraced the Christian faith, to the time where it was deformed, where the doctrine that was once established by men of faith where misplaces, in which several Christians fought for the true doctrine, the true word of God, the essence of Christianity, to that moment where martyrs died for God’s word but succeeded in fighting the good fight of faith.
The book started with the life of John Wycliffe, followed by the life of Lord Cobham (Sir John Oldcastle), to the fight fought by John Huss and William Tyndale until the time of Martin Luther.
If there was one thing that broke my heart during the course of reading the book, it’s the death of the martyrs but what makes it wonderful are the proclamations and testimonies by these men with their faith. John Wycliffe, being heavily protected by his acquaintances, had been able to escape and hide from the prowess of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. But for Lord Cobham, John Huss and Wiilliam Tyndale, they suffered the unjustifiable death of being burned at stake.
These martyrs of faith stood to what they know and believe; the truth about God’s word and the erroneous teachings of the papal clergy and the Pope himself. Several attempts of forcing them to recant their words was to no avail since they knew that the truth should be declared to Christians and that the essence of God’s word should be defended in any way they could even if will cost their lives.
It was the manner of their execution; the process of putting them into such painful and repulsive punishments that makes it all together wrong and without a doubt, evil. And knowing that the Roman Catholic Church was the head of all these things, the Pope having the greatest authority, are unacceptable acts from supposedly men of faith and more importantly, men of God.
It was their words, their identity that makes me realize how often we take for granted our freedom to read God’s word, to proclaim our identity, to stand to our belief. “I am a Christian.” It’s their words and I hope it should be ours too. I am a Christian means emulating Christ, knowing He alone is the head of the Church; recognizing that without Him, all things in this world are nothing, believing that being a Christian does not just go by the name or by outward behavior but the heart to serve Him, the Church, his people and the church militant that continues to strive against sin in this temporal bode where we dwell.